Cupping has been in used in ancient Chinese medicine for at least 3,000 years. This treatment, which basically involves using suction cups on your skin, is often used in combination with acupuncture and massage to elevate “Qi”, which represents a person’s energy or life force.
Recently, there has been considerable interest in using cupping to improve complexion and treat various skin ailments. Studies performed by Turkish and Egyptian dermatologists have shown that cupping therapy can yield improvements in hives, welts and acne. However, improvements were not shown in cases of dermatitis, vitiligo and psoriasis.
You may have heard of lymphatic drainage from your Esthetician or articles. This is a method used to move lymph (fluid) through your system to reduce swelling and puffiness. When done properly, your body will drain the lymph which carries white blood cells, bacteria, and toxins. Estheticians who are trained in lymph drainage techniques may use their fingertips, and more recently suction cups, to promote the movement of lymphatic fluids.
Wet and Dry Cupping
In both types of cupping a practitioner uses a small cylindrical cone to create a vacuum of (negative) pressure. A portion of skin is sucked into the cup, which is then glided across the skin’s surface, aided by an ointment like Cherry Life Saver. For skin care purposes, we recommend dry cupping with an oil or cleanser for easy gliding. Cupping may provide positive results due to its ability to promote local circulation.
Wet cupping differs in that an incision is made at the site of the cupping to draw out a small amount of blood. This is believed to remove toxins from the body. To avoid scarring and other damage, wet cupping should not be used on the face and absolutely not be done at home or by a non-medical professional.
In previous posts we have discussed elasticity and collagen–these are extremely important for healthy, plump skin. I haven’t seen a study showing the positive or negative effects of cupping over time. I want to be sure that the act of pulling on the skin is, in fact, increasing collagen and elastin production, not damaging it by breaking down the elastin and making the skin sag. Overall, cupping may be beneficial in some people, however, there is not enough evidence out there to confidently say that it works.
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1.Treats cystic acne: http://www.edoj.org.eg/vol009/0901/002/01.htm
- Cupping is safe: http://www.jtad.org/2012/1/jtad1261a1.pdf
- Reduces oxidative stress: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25453524
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